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Digital Rights Managment vs the Inevitability of Free Content


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This is a powerpoint presentation that accompanied my talk at Simon Fraser University's Digital Publishing Workshops in July 2009.

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Digital Rights Managment vs the Inevitability of Free Content

  1. 1. Digital Rights Management vs the Inevitability of Free Content Book Publishing, the Illusion of Piracy and Giving the Customer What They Pay For By Sean Cranbury Presented at SFU Digital Publishing Workshop 2009 [email_address] /
  2. 2. Only Connect EM Forster Howard’s End 1910
  3. 3. Defining the Terms <ul><li>Digital Rights Management </li></ul><ul><li>Any lock placed on a digital ebook file for whatever reason that limits usage or portability of that file for the paying customer. </li></ul><ul><li>Piracy </li></ul><ul><li>Popular term used to describe file sharing on peer to peer networks. </li></ul><ul><li>Free Content </li></ul><ul><li>Paid content that the customer is able to read, use and share without limits of file-type or device respecting the spirit of copyright. </li></ul><ul><li>Free as in libre, not free as in gratis. - Monique Trottier </li></ul>
  4. 4. Weird Ideas #1: Tim O’Reilly <ul><li>Obscurity is a far greater threat to authors and creative artists than piracy. </li></ul><ul><li>Piracy is progressive taxation. </li></ul><ul><li>Customers want to do the right thing, if they can. </li></ul><ul><li>Shoplifting is a bigger threat than piracy. </li></ul><ul><li>- from Tim O’Reilly’s essay ‘Piracy is Progressive Taxation, and other Thoughts on the Evolution of Online Distribution </li></ul>
  5. 5. Brian O’Leary Investigates Piracy with 2008 O’Reilly Frontlist <ul><li>65 frontlist titles from O’Reilly 2008 catalog sold without DRM. Only 21 seeded/uploaded to P2P sites. </li></ul><ul><li>O’Reilly books always sold without DRM, even Kindle titles. </li></ul><ul><li>Widely held assumption among O’Reilly employees that books appear on P2P sites immediately after purchase. </li></ul><ul><li>Average of 19 weeks elapse between original publication date and original seeding/upload to P2P site. </li></ul><ul><li>Average sales increase of 6.5% during 4 weeks after first seeding of content. </li></ul><ul><li>65% of their web-site sales are digital files, not print. </li></ul><ul><li>Assumptions about rampant digital piracy do not correspond with data. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Brian O’Leary Investigates the Use of Free Content with Random House US. <ul><li>Industry has long history of giving away free content. ARCs, galleys, blads, sample chapters = spreading the word about a book via industry tastemakers. </li></ul><ul><li>PDF, ebook, mp3 files made available for free during trial period. Data collected before, during after trial period. </li></ul><ul><li>Small sample size. </li></ul><ul><li>Sales up 19.1% during promo period, up 6.5% during promo/post promo period. </li></ul><ul><li>Range from +155% to -74% </li></ul><ul><li>Not specific to piracy, looking at free digital content as marketing/promotional tool. </li></ul><ul><li>Digital download  lost sale. </li></ul>
  7. 7. Brian O’Leary Provides Useful Cautions: my comments in italics <ul><li>Correlation Isn’t Causality: there seems to be a corresponding positive influence on physical books sales during times when content is made free online and/or when that content appears on P2P sites. Lots more research is necessary to determine how far this correlation goes. It’s important to recognize that we are uncertain about causes but can note some correlations. </li></ul><ul><li>Larger Data Sets are Needed: this body of evidence is very small and has occurred over a limited period of time. Only O’Reilly and Random House titles during 2008 and continuing to today. More publishers are coming on board with the project and data is updated continually. </li></ul><ul><li>What Works Today May Not Work in the Future: there is a need for on-going development of processes, technical considerations, awareness of industry trends and consumer tendencies that may affect results. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Other Thoughts on Digital Content <ul><li>- Respect for the Intellectual Property and Copyright holders. Copyright is being reconsidered by the Government of Canada in light of the current digital landscape. Investigate, lend your voice. </li></ul><ul><li>- Decisions made based on an unwillingness to adapt do a disservice to the reader, creator and everyone involved in the publishing process. </li></ul><ul><li>- Informed decisions come from examining known data, speaking to people with special knowledge, creating new data thru experimentation, ongoing cultivation of relationships and generation of good will. </li></ul><ul><li>- Free is not new. ARCs, galleys, sample chapters, gratis copies. </li></ul><ul><li>- Know your pirates. What is their motivation for seeding and file sharing? Is it possible that they’re helping the work gain relevance in an underserved demographic? Could file sharing increase awareness in unexplored/unknown markets? </li></ul>
  9. 9. Weird Ideas #2: Cory Doctorow <ul><li>Doctorow’s Law: Anytime someone puts a lock on something you own, against your wishes, and doesn't give you the key, they're not doing it for your benefit. </li></ul><ul><li>Nobody ever said, “Gee I wish there was some way that I could do less with my [ebooks]. I wonder if someone is offering that product today.” </li></ul>
  10. 10. Preserving the Ecosystem <ul><li>As we have also noted earlier, some producers who might otherwise be inclined to release content with strong DRM measures in place have also demonstrated a willingness to forego DRM protections in order to both pursue greater sales and to circumvent any cases of iTunes-like &quot;platform lock in&quot;. Within the last year alone, major audiobook publishers such as Random House have released DRM-free audiobooks with these goals in mind. </li></ul><ul><li>- Craig Riggs, Audiobook and eBook Publishing in Canada (2008) , a study conducted for Library and Archives Canada </li></ul>
  11. 11. What Does the Customer Want? <ul><li>Huge selection, easy to navigate and find what they want. </li></ul><ul><li>Interoperability. High quality product that plays on every device without limitation. </li></ul><ul><li>Good price and convenient transaction. </li></ul><ul><li>- David Pakman, Venrock Associates, former CEO at </li></ul>
  12. 12. Weird Ideas #3: Andrew Savikas <ul><li>Media companies are in the service business, not the content business. [Customers] pay for the service of providing a selection of convenient options easy to pay for and easy to download. </li></ul><ul><li>Arguing that you need to beef up copyright protection to make sure there are ways to generate revenue online incorrectly assumes that what people are paying for is the copyrighted content itself. People do not care about content, they care about themselves and their problems. </li></ul><ul><li>You don't get an &quot;A&quot; for effort just by spending time and money creating content (and you are not entitled to your business model -- you have to earn that money every day by doing something that people find worth paying for -- and they decide it's worth paying for, not you). </li></ul><ul><li>- from his essay Content is a Service Business. </li></ul>
  13. 13. Know Your Pirate: Notes on the next 5 slides <ul><li>The next 5 slides are screen captures taken from random browsing through for ebook uploads. </li></ul><ul><li>The one question that I hope comes from viewing these slides is “Are these people really the enemy or are they our friends?” </li></ul><ul><li>It seems that the motivation for a lot of the seeding activity that we are seeing on P2P sites is more archival than malicious. The intent is not to undermine the industry and ride off into the sunset with a boat full of ill-gotten booty. The intent seems more like a community service. </li></ul><ul><li>Remember: these people are not profiting from seeding and sharing content on P2P sites. </li></ul><ul><li>How many gratis/review copies of new books end up in the windows of downtown second hand bookstores days after their release? That’s a real life example of people turning a quick profit from free physical content provided to them by publishers. </li></ul>
  14. 14. Know Your Pirate #1: Scanned and seeded 709 pages to the P2P site. Includes bibliographic data and notes on the file for peers. Is this evangelism, theft or something else?
  15. 15. Know Your Pirate #2: Note the dedication to print and electronic books. Is this person providing a service to his community of passionate fans?
  16. 16. Know Your Pirate #3: small sample of 8 pages of positive commentary about the Stephen King uploads. Note the gratitude among peers, several comments about owning many of the author’s physical books.
  17. 17. Known Your Pirate #4: CanLit is safe from relevancy on file sharing sites.
  18. 18. Know Your Pirate #5: Several Salinger ebooks uploaded, including 4 translations of Catcher in the Rye. Is there malicious intent here?
  19. 19. Acknowledgments <ul><li>I would like to thank the following people for taking the time to speak to me about DRM during the preparation of this presentation. </li></ul><ul><li>Kirk Biglione, , </li></ul><ul><li>David Pakman, </li></ul><ul><li>Brian O’Leary, </li></ul><ul><li>Andrew Savikas, </li></ul><ul><li>Craig Riggs, </li></ul><ul><li>Monique Trottier, </li></ul><ul><li>These people have been highly influential through their writings and ideas </li></ul><ul><li>Cory Doctorow, </li></ul><ul><li>Richard Nash, </li></ul><ul><li>Malle Vallik, </li></ul><ul><li>Kassia Krozser, </li></ul>